My fears and hopes for the City of London. Www.unlike group.co
Last week I had a meeting close to St Paul’s cathedral and a second one near the Bank of England. I walked down Cheapside around 11.30 am and I couldn’t help notice that it was dead. No more than 5 people walking, a few taxi’s and half the shops closed or opening short or late hours.
This is not a sustainable position nor healthy for the future prosperity of the City or the UK economy. Like it or not, London is a powerhouse City with a unique culture, diverse and with a wealth of skills many in Financial and related services.
The one significant advantage, of the pandemic (if there can ever be such a thing) is that people have been able to retreat to their homes and families and get a better work life blend. This has has a knock on impact on towns and villages across the UK, many of them seeing a revival in fortunes. ‘Enforced‘ levelling up, perhaps?
So what about The City - what is to be done?
One thing I am sure about is that forced return to offices will be a major turn off for employees. Better work life blending, less travelling, less expense, more family time being enjoyed by many. Force people to give this up and they will leave. Silly Government pronouncement that lack transparency, posturing tone deaf statements from out of touch senior financial services leaders (mostly men I notice!) are not helping.
But, we need our cities to thrive and our collective ideas about how to fix the problem.
There is a significant proportion of the working population for whom working from home has been a nightmare both mentally and physically. Small flats, no outdoor space, poor internet connections, loneliness etc. And many are missing the face to face interactions which help form business relationship bonds. (No I don’t mean all the blokes in the pub near to Lloyds!)
Some thoughts from me:
free transport days when the city is quieter say Friday
re-imagine work places to be more stimulating, interesting and less factory like (as Google is doing)
Food vouchers to be spent in local eateries
change the planning laws - way more mixed use development - no office only space
subsidised accommodation in the city for those relatively poorly paid workers
events and learning opportunities aimed at younger people
free parking for electric vehicles
more electric scooters and bikes
More YMCA type accommodation in the City
Just some thoughts and I would love to hear your views.
Lets help reboot the City!